Rural Michigan Residents Protest Permit For Chinese Battery Factory

Rural Michigan communities are standing up against the decision of the Green Charter Township board to consider permitting a Chinese company to build a battery manufacturing facility there.

Over 100 local Mecosta County residents at the board meeting last Tuesday expressed concern and outrage over the proposal to grant authority to China-based Gotion Global to build the plant.

One speaker, who identified himself as a veteran of the Iraq War, challenged the board members: “The thing that drives some the most crazy about this is that this is a Chinese-owned company. A Chinese-owned company is a communist company. Why would you bring a communist company to Big Rapids, Michigan, when we have troops mobilizing right now to fight China?”

He emphasized that the residents do not have anything against the people of China but acknowledge that the Chinese Communist Party is America’s enemy. The veteran noted that the Chinese people “suffer under the same communism that you all are trying to bring here. It’s disgusting.”

Another resident told the board that the government should only permit “American companies on American soil.”

The controversy came to the attention of last year’s Republican candidate for Michigan governor, Tudor Dixon. Last November, she lost a narrow contest to incumbent Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D).

Dixon wrote on Twitter after the meeting: “The residents who spoke out against the Big Rapids communist Chinese battery plant were clear, focused, and on point. Township leaders would do well to listen to them and heed their concerns. National security over the promise of jobs!”

She also noted that the proposed 700-acre facility “could easily double as a base for spying on Americans.”

The state legislature has appropriated $585 million in public funding for constructing the Chinese-owned plant and two similar facilities designed to produce batteries for electric vehicles. The funding provides that a state economic development board will oversee the construction.

Gotion has postponed construction of one of those plants, proposed for Big Rapids, Michigan, after a vote by that town’s council to ask for a federal review to assess any potential national security risks that would come with the facility’s operation by the Chinese company.

Some residents favor the Green Charter Township project, citing the number of new jobs the facility promises to bring to the local economy.

The township board scheduled another public hearing on April 5 to further consider the future of the Chinese battery plant.